Friday, August 28, 2020

August


This bouquet of flowers came from our wildflower garden.

August has been a busy month of gardening, canning, home improvements and beginning our homeschool year. It feels as though we have accomplished a great over the past few weeks.

We have been so pleased, blessed and grateful with the success of our garden this year. Adam tripled the size of our patch dedicated to growing corn, and it was wonderful to enjoy homegrown sweet corn so often this summer. We even had enough corn that I was able to freeze several quarts for the winter ahead.

Adam has compiled a collection of  garden pictures that we hope to share in a post here soon. As you can see from the picture above Adam grew almost everything this year! The cantaloupe has been a favorite. The flavor is so sweet and special during the last of these hot summer days.

As I type this I have over a dozen jars of spaghetti sauce and a dozen jars of pepper jelly resting on my kitchen counter - all made with produce from the garden. It is such a joy to know that come winter we will still have a taste of this beautiful summer to enjoy!


Earlier this week I made plum jam. It remains a family favorite. I am always delighted when I am able to find locally grown plums. They are so delicious and they make the perfect jam!

In the evenings I enjoy sitting back with a good book or some handiwork. Currently I am reading Duskin by Grace Livingston Hill. Reading a Grace Livingston Hill book is like meeting with an old friend, some of the situations are similar book to book, but enough is different to be entertaining. The theme of God speaking through His Word is woven throughout Duskin in such a natural and beautiful way. The main character has promised her mother that she will  read her Bible daily while away from home on a business trip. At first she is annoyed by her mother's request, but as the story progresses she realizes that God is using the book of Proverbs to guide and direct her course.

The evenings have been cooler of late and I have been finding some time to knit again. This summer was quite hot, so my knitting sat tucked away until now. The blue yarn is being knit into a cardigan for my daughter. The natural yarn is a scarf.

Earlier this month I canned several quarts of peaches. While I had fresh peaches on hand I made peaches and cream kuchen, a recipe that my grandma shared with me years ago. It is one of Adam's favorites, so much so that I made it twice in one weekend.

Peaches and Cream Kuchen

Crust:

2 cups flour

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt  and baking powder. With pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Turn mixture into lightly greased 8"x8" pan. Pat firmly against bottom and sides of pan.

3 cups of sliced peaches (fresh, frozen or canned may be used)

 3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Arrange peaches over crust. Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over peaches. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat 1 cup heavy cream and 2 egg yolks together. Pour over peaches. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to stand 10 minutes, serves warm. Yum!

My mom, daughter and I visited a lovely greenhouse/farm market one day this month. Jemimah was excited to discover this stunning display of pink petunias. We had to snap a few pictures of her among the flowers.



"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20

Friday, July 31, 2020

Sour Cream Berry Pie Recipe

During the summer months I love to enjoy the fresh fruits of the season through pies. Recently I had used some black raspberries for jam and didn't have quite enough left over to make a pie with, but still wanted to incorporate them into my baking. Then I remembered reading a recipe for a sour cream berry pie in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. It seemed a somewhat unusual recipe and at first I was hesitant to give it a try. My curiosity got the better of me! Sour cream berry pie is a recipe I will keep on hand to bake often since it doesn't require as much fruit as a classic fruit pie. The texture is delicious and I found that the berries were still the main flavor of the pie.

Sour Cream Berry Pie:
2 1/2 cups elderberries or blackberries*
1 cup sugar**
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
Pastry for 1 (9 inch) crust

Wash berries and place in an unbaked crust.
Combine sugar and flour.
Add sour cream and blend thoroughly.
Pour mixture over fruit.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30 minutes.

*I used 3 heaping cups of black raspberries.
**I used 3/4 cup of sugar. My berries were quite sweet and I felt an entire cup would be too much.
I look forward to baking this pie recipe again using different berries. I think red raspberries would be wonderful. Come September I hope to make the elderberry variation too!

 This recipe can be found in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. I purchased the 65th Anniversary Edition a couple of years ago. It is a lovely cookbook. Some of the recipes are a bit more old-fashioned than what I would typically cook, but there are still many that are timeless and delicious!

What new recipes are you enjoying this summer?


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Black Raspberries and Clematis


This summer we have been abundantly blessed with delicious raspberries, both red and black. Ever since I was a little girl black raspberries have been a favorite. For many years they grew wild along the edge of my mom's yard. My sisters and I loved to pick and eat blackberries on hot summer days. Very often we had enough for a pie too.
About four years ago Adam planted both red and black raspberries at our home. In the picture above you can see the row of black raspberries to the left and red to the right.

It has taken time, but it is certainly a blessing to see the bushes reach their full potential and produce enough berries to be useful.
We had enough berries to make two batches of jam (20 jars). I love making lots of jam each year. Family and friends are always pleased to receive a jar of jam. I feel like it is a way to preserve some of summer for the winter months.
Each year my clematis brings me so much joy! The previous owners of our home planted the clematis. It was a lovely surprise the first summer we lived here.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Friday, July 10, 2020

Elderberries and Bluebirds

 It has been a while since I last posted here. Life has been busy and my blog always seems to take last place on my list of priorities. Between finishing up our homeschool year, gardening, homemaking, sewing and just enjoying my family, the months have moved along too quickly for my liking!
 Today I thought I would share some pictures of our elderberry bushes. Some may remember back to when Adam first planted the bushes in 2017. I am amazed how they have grown so huge in just three years! We will have to use a ladder to reach the uppermost berries.
 The blossoms are as large as my hand and they smell absolutely heavenly! In fact you can smell their fragrance several feet away, especially on these warm summer evenings. We are excited, and hopeful, for a grand harvest of elderberries this September.
 We have been delighted with our little family of Eastern bluebirds that have nested in one of our bluebird boxes this year. It may be hard to see them clearly in this picture, but there are four babies. The baby on the lower left hand side is beginning to show blue feathers.

Eastern bluebirds are very special to me. My grandma and mom were some of the first in our area to place bluebird boxes in their yard, about 30 years ago now. Both studied bluebirds and were very attentive to each bluebird family that nested on their properties. I remember one year a family of baby bluebirds had become wet and dirty due to a tremendous rain storm. My mom and grandma worked together to gently clean the babies and create a fresh nest from grass clippings that had been left from mowing the lawn. At the time it seemed a bit risky, but they did a great job. All of the babies survived and eventually left the nest.
 Hopefully I will share a post dedicated to our garden in the near future. Adam had outdone himself this year! Despite the lack of rain we have had in our area, our garden is thriving. Praise the Lord! We are all eagerly anticipating the first tomatoes and corn on the cob of the season.
 The lettuce in the picture above was found in one of my flower beds. The seed must have been carried there by the wind. It made for a delicious salad.
 This was our best year yet for rhubarb. I was able to make two batches of vanilla-rhubarb jam. If you have yet to try this jam recipe I recommend you make a batch soon! It is by far the most delicious and unique jam I have ever tasted.
We love to sit outside in the evenings and watch the sunset. I thought this sunset was a beauty, however my picture pales in comparison to how the sunset looked in real life.

I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful summer surrounded by God's great creations!

"For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.
 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Psalm 33: 4-6



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven

In times of doubt, fear, and loss, we turn to the songs and hymns that remind us that this world is not all there is--that what awaits us as followers of Jesus is a heavenly kingdom. Songs like "Face to Face," "Amazing Grace," "Victory in Jesus," and "I'll Fly Away" were written amid circumstances of great personal pain in the lives of the songwriters. In sharing their stories, we can find even more comfort in our own circumstances.
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Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven
By: Ace Collins


Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven by Ace Collins contains the stories behind 30 well loved songs that were inspired by thoughts of heaven. Each of the thirty chapters begins with a scripture that applies to the song and story behind the song, when possible the lyrics to the song are included. Some of the songs are still within copyright laws, therefore the lyrics to those songs are not provided.

I was at times surprised but delighted with the wide variety of songs shared in this volume. I expected songs such as "Shall We Gather at the River" and "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder", but did not expect songs like "This Ole House". Some of the songs presented in this book were new to me and I enjoyed having the chance to look these songs up on-line and to hear them for the first time.

Many of the songs and hymns about heaven were written by people who were facing hard times. They came from hearts weary of this world, hearts longing for heaven and a day without tears. I was inspired by the testimonies of some of these writers, they faced great hardship and many faced tragedies, but they did not lose sight of God and His promise of an eternal home with Him in heaven.

It is hard to choose a favorite song/hymn from Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven so I will include a few of my favorites.

"Beyond the Sunset" was written against the backdrop of the great depression. The writer, Virgil P. Brock, was wearied by all he saw around him. It seemed there was no hope left in the world. While spending a weekend with his blind cousin he was inspired by the "vision" and faith of his cousin. Though unable to see with physical sight, his cousin's soul was able to see "beyond the sunset".

Another favorite was" This Ole House". I have always enjoyed singing along with Rosemary Clooney's rendition of this song, while little knowing the deeper meaning the writer meant to convey. The composer of this song was a popular cowboy radio host. He wrote many songs that pointed his audience to God."This Ole House" was inspired by a hunting trip, a chance encounter with an old house and its recently heaven bound occupant.

I've always loved the song "He Keeps Me Singing", the chorus can get stuck in my head for days! The testimony behind this song was heartbreaking. But the faith of the composer, Luther Burgess Bridgers, was inspiring. After losing his wife and three sons it was his faith in meeting them in heaven one day that kept him singing and serving his Savior Jesus. After years of believing and trusting he was able to see the fruit of his faith and the far reaching power of his song had on so many.

Another favorite was "Face to Face". I loved that the theme of this song was a desire to see our Savior face to face! That the real attraction of heaven is our Savior and not simply an escape from life's difficulties. "Face to Face" was written by Carrie Breck, a wife and mother blessed with the gift to encourage others with her gift of poetry.

There were a few stories that I found a little tedious to read, as they outlined how a song became popular rather than the people behind the song. Definitely those stories were important too, to show how God can use a song at just the right time to bless people. Overall I really enjoyed Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven and would recommend it.

*I received a complimentary copy of Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven from Baker Books Bloggers in exchange for my honest review*

 

Monday, April 20, 2020

April

Earlier this month we enjoyed the first of our springtime flowers, crocuses. My little girl loves flowers and was excited to pick dainty bouquets for our kitchen table. In the picture above you can see her collection of bouquets in her tiny tea cups.
 Jemimah loves to color, and I am grateful to find a wonderful variety of coloring pages through Pinterest. I am always especially pleased to find scripture verses for her to color. Over the past two months Jemimah has memorized all of the verses comprising the Romans Road. It truly blesses my heart to hear my daughter recite the many scriptures she has memorized over the past year.
 Our new hens have begun egg production! After a long winter of not collecting any eggs it has been wonderful to have an abundance of eggs to share once again. Since we have a variety of breeds this time, it is nice to take note of the variances of the egg shell colors. My sister commented how some of the eggs are almost mauve in their hue.
 Over the winter Jemimah learned to embroider. Embroidery was one of my favorite pastimes when I was a youngster, however I will admit I didn't learn to embroider quite as young as Jemimah has. She spent many painstaking hours creating this precious kitty tea towel for me. I know that I will treasure it forever!
 My most recently completed project is a crocheted afghan. It has been quite a while since I crocheted an afghan. It had been on my mind that I would like to crochet an afghan for our living room.
My grandma was quite prolific in her crocheting of afghans. All three of her children, as well as some grandchildren were gifted with multiple hand crocheted afghans. Growing up I always loved to nap under one of grandma's afghans. I thought of my grandma a lot while crocheting this afghan. It was my grandma who taught me to crochet, and this pattern is very similar to a pattern she crocheted a number of times.
 I am really pleased with the end result! It is super cozy and I love the stitch pattern. It was fun to crochet as it was not overly repetitive, but was simple to memorize.
Did you all have a nice Resurrection Sunday? We did, even if it was quiet and different. One of the special treats we enjoyed this Easter was chocolate cream pie. I thought I would share the recipe today. Over the past few years it has become a family favorite and one of my most requested desserts to bring to family gatherings. In fact my one sister always asks me to make her a chocolate cream pie for her birthday and wedding anniversary. : )

Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix ingredients well in a medium saucepan. Then add:

3 3/4 cups milk (I recommend whole milk)
Cook over medium-high heat. Stir constantly. Mixture will come to a boil. Boil 1 minute or until the pudding is thick. Then add:

3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix well. Pour into an already baked pie crust. Chill in refrigerator until completely cool. I typically allow my pie to cool overnight in the refrigerator. Then top with homemade whipped cream, and if you are feeling extra festive maybe some sprinkles.

To close I would like to share a devotional I recently read in David Jeremiah's daily devotional Turning Points.
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 Unwavering
The Lord has promised good things.
Numbers 10:29

In his commentary on the book of Joshua, John Calvin wrote, “Our faith, unless founded solely on [God’s] promise, must be continually wavering…. Faith ought properly to recline on the truth of God alone.”
[1]
Are you troubled today? The Bible says, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion” (Psalm 27:5).

Do you feel weak? The Lord declares, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Are you anxious about how a situation will work out? Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

For every pulsing thought, there is a pulsating Scripture. There’s always a Bible verse waiting to be requisitioned to your need. Search it out and write it on the tablet of your mind. If our faith is founded solely on God’s promises, we’ll be unwavering.

That which God promises to us in word he seals by act.
John Calvin
 
 "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
2 Peter 1:2-4


Saturday, April 11, 2020

One Day


One Day

One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
  One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin—
  Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
  Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
    One day He’s coming—O glorious day!
One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
  One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected;
  Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He.
One day they left Him alone in the garden,
  One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
  Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
  One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
  Now is ascended, my Lord evermore.
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
  One day the skies with His glory will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;
  Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!
-J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918)

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

"Jesus saith unto him,' I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

 May you have a blessed and beautiful Resurrection Sunday!